SEDONA, AZ — A day after the mayor of Sedona made a public plea discouraging people from visiting Sedona in an effort to promote social distancing and to slow the spread of COVID-19, officials with the Coconino National Forest Red Forest District announced Thursday the closures of some of the more popular hiking trails in the city.
Beginning on Saturday morning, April 4, the U.S. Forest Office will close the following trails:
- Beaver Creek Day-Use Site
- Bell Rock Trailhead
- Cathedral Rock Trailhead and Trail
- Courthouse Vista Trailhead
- Crescent Moon Day-Use Site
- Devil’s Bridge Trail, including OHV access and surrounding associated trails:
- Dry Creek Trailhead
- Long Canyon Trailhead
- Mescal Trailhead
- West Fork Trailhead and Trail
“We realize these popular destinations in Sedona are places people rejuvenate by getting outside and experiencing the beauty this area has to offer,” said Red Rock District Ranger Amy Tinderholt in a written statement “However, the unfortunate reality at these locations during this pandemic has been continued high use, causing crowds to form and people lining up just to hike or get to the end of the trail. We will not keep trails and areas open that create environments for COVID-19 to spread easily, which negates the important practice of social distancing.”
Forest rangers and local law enforcement will patrol the areas and give tickets to those who ignore the closures, a news release said.
Photos taken over the weekend showed hiking trails overrun with people. One photo showed more than a hundred people waiting to cross Devil's Bridge.
"Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures,” Mayor Sandy Moriarty told ABC15 during an interview on Wednesday. “It’s incredible, it really is crowded, it’s too crowded."
“It was literally a line of people, waiting to get out on the bridge, very close to each other and asking each other to take pictures,” she said.
The news also comes one day after the National Park Service announced the immediate closure of Grand Canyon National Park, which confirmed its first positive case of coronavirus earlier this week.
According to the Sedona Chamber of Commerce's website, several stores and attractions in the area have already closed, including Chapel of the Holy Cross.